John Bapst coach running his first Boston Marathon

Posted April 14, 2011, at 5:22 p.m.
Last modified April 14, 2011, at 8:35 p.m.

BANGOR — Joe Capehart has been a mainstay in the local running scene for the last few years, not only as a top-flight racer but as a cross country and track and field coach at John Bapst Memorial High School.

The 1998 Bangor High graduate will toe the line for a new challenge Monday when he runs in his first Boston Marathon.

Even though he’s a veteran competitor, Capehart, 30, still has some slight nerves.

“What I’m really anticipating is the amount of people,” he said as his Crusaders practiced this week. “I’ve obviously never been in a race where it’s been packed for 26 miles.”

Capehart will be among 218 Maine athletes making the 26.2-mile trip from the village of Hopkinton to Copley Square in Boston, and that list includes a legend.

Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first women’s Olympic marathon champ from the 1984 Los Angeles Games, will be competing in her first Boston Marathon since 1993, and she’ll start with the other elite women at 9:32 a.m., along with fellow Mainer Sheri Piers of Falmouth.

“I think its going to be great,” Piers said. “I’ve only run with her in the trials back in 2008, so I’ve never run in a (Boston) marathon with her.”

The elite women will be followed by the elite men and the first wave of non-elite athletes at 10:00 a.m., while the second and third waves will go off at 10:20 and 10:40, respectively.

Samuelson, a Cape Elizabeth native, owns two Boston victories in 1979 and 1983, and her 1983 winning effort of 2 hours, 22 minutes, 43 seconds, which was once a world record, is fourth all-time. She also founded the TD Bank Beach to Beacon 10K race in Portland.

Capehart qualified for Boston at the 2009 Sugarloaf Marathon, completing that race in 2:58.20, which gives him confidence given Sugarloaf’s challenging course.

“I can’t believe I qualified on that,” Capehart said. “But that kind of gives me hope for Boston.”

Capehart also went and looked at the course profile maps for the MDI Marathon and for Boston, and he said based on that, Boston appears easier, but he has been taking advice from peers.

“Not to go out too fast,” Capehart said.

He’s also approaching his Boston debut like any other race.

“That’s one of the best strategies to have is to kind of look at it as I’ve done this four-five times before, and it will be like in cross country (where) you try and block out all the distractions and run your own race,” Capehart said. “That’s going to be hard in Boston but I’ll do the best I can.”

The list of Maine entries includes one of Capehart’s coaching colleagues in Hampden Academy cross country coach Dick Balentine, along with veteran marathoner and MDI Marathon race director Gary Allen of Cranberry Isles.

Two other names familiar to Maine running will also be looking for strong times, Adam Goode of Bangor and Limestone High graduate Robert Gomez. Gomez, who now lives in Saco, posted a qualifying time that will put him among the men’s elite runners with bib No. 42.

Falmouth’s Piers will be running with the lead women for the third time in as many years, and has enjoyed considerable success.

Her best finish occurred in 2009 when she finished 11th overall in 2:37.04.

Piers has had to endure a tough winter thanks to multiple snowstorms.

“I’ve been on the treadmill all winter which has been very, very difficult for me,” she said. “I’ve pretty much been on my own on the treadmill.”

That aside, Piers is confident she can yet again run with some of the best athletes in the world.

“Last year didn’t go as well as I hoped it would’ve, but based off a recent half-marathon in New York it looks like the fitness is there,” she said. “When you put all the work in over the winter it’s time to get something out of it.”

Amanda LaBelle of Rockland, who won the Bangor Labor Day 5-mile race in 2009, is also entered.

Those wishing to catch the race online can do so at www.universalsports.com.

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